Monday, July 4, 2016

W. B. Yeats' Political and Personal Passions in 'No Second Troy'

‘No Second Troy’ is the most celebrated poem in the volume ‘The Green Helmet and other Poems.’ It is one of the poems in which W. B. Yeats’ political and personal feelings find a combined expression. The poem begins with a question, a question that which leads to a kind of suspense that lasts till the very end. The poet strongly disapproves of the petty violence of Maud Gonne’s followers who ‘hurled the little streets upon the great.’ Maud Gonne is seen in terms of destruction. Her heroic beauty cannot avoid its consequences and must issue in destructiveness. But we must not blame her because , being what she is, she cannot help herself. 

Yeats’ criticism of Maude Gonne is based partly on her callousness towards him and partly on her political postures and the revolutionary violence that she preached to her countryman for the liberation of the motherland. The poem opens with a reference to her indifference to his love: ‘Why should I blame her that she filled my days with misery?’ Yeats’ disapproval of her political aggressiveness and bellicosity finds expression in the third line where Maud Gonne is visualized as teaching ‘to ignorant men most violent ways.’ 

There is a tinge of bitterness here because of the misery that the poet suffered on the account of Maud Gonne’s persistent refusals to marry Yeats. But the poet would not like to blame her because ,  he says in the eleventh line : Why, what could she have done , being what she is?’ The poem concludes with the question ‘ Was there another troy for her to burn?’ The implication is that, although Maud Gonne was another Helen and , she could not, in the changed circumstances , cause another Trojan War. In the changed circumstances, she could only fill the poet’s days with misery and she could teach most violent ways to ignorant men. The poet also asks ,in the middle of the poem, what could have made such a woman ‘peaceful’.